28 Weeks Later – The Rare Sequel That Equals The Original!

28 Weeks Later Movie ReviewIt’s been six months since the Rage virus pretty much destroyed Britain. Now, in this excellent sequel, an area of London – the Green Area – is welcoming a combination of repatriated survivors and people who were out of the country while the virus raged [so to speak…]… 28 Weeks Later gets off to a running [literally] start when a group of survivors have their cozy, boarded up cottage assailed by infectees after letting a young boy in. As the infectees tear up various members of the group, Don [Robert Carlyle] makes a break for freedom – leaving his wife, Alice [Catherine McCormack] behind. 

Cut to months later, and a United States taskforce has secured the Green Area in London and the uninfected have been allowed to take up residence there. Don is now the Area manager: a kind of super-janitor whose electronic ID card gets him in everywhere – a fact that he uses to impress his children when they return from a class trip to Spain that went a bit longer than anticipated.

Andy [Mackintosh Muggleton] and Tammy [Imogen Poots] learn a somewhat revised version of what happened to their mother – a lie for which Don inevitably pays the ultimate price. Worried that they might forget what their mother looked like, the two kids slip out of the Green Area to return home and find a picture of her – but discover the real thing as well.

28 Weeks Later - Tammy Cowers

Alice has survived biting by the infected and is clearly immune. Medical Officer Scarlett [Rose O’Byrne] discovers that she’s a carrier and quite possibly the source of a cure. Unfortunately, Don finds his way to his wife’s quarantine room and things get really nasty – leading to a Code Red situation that breaks down, simply, to killing everything/everyone that moves.

Giving credit where credit is due, the script for 28 Weeks Later [by Rowan Joffe, Juan Carlos Fresnadillo, Jesus Olmo and E.L. Lavigne] is as smart and nuanced [and as bloody] as the original – and, like all great zombie movies – it works on a couple of levels. First there’s the story of the fight to survive the return of the Rage virus, and then there’s the whole U.S. involvement in foreign problems thing. At various points, the film also references World War II, the Korean and Viet Nam Wars and the current situation.

28 Weeks Later - Running For Their Lives

Fresnadillo, who also directed the brilliant Spanish film Intacto, combines frenetic, handheld shots [when Don escapes at the beginning, for examples] with elegant long shots [watching the kids slip out of the Green Area] and contrasting graininess and crystal clarity depending on mood and situation. Even during the calmer scenes that make up the return to the Green Area [and the scenes of Don’s family settling in] have a feeling of otherness because Fresnadillo’s palette is just that little bit off.

Then there’s the contrast of the quietude in the streets of deserted London with the raw energy of the scenes of the Rage infected and fleeing uninfected – and the equally savage power of the military action. Sure, the grossout moments have a terrible impact, but there’s something compellingly creepy about an abandoned London with cars and motorbikes sitting dormant while papers flutter in the breeze and litter covers most of everything. Thus, even when 28 Weeks Later is not a ride, it’s still a ride.

Like 28 Days Later, the sequel approaches Romero-like brilliance at moments – more than enough to make this one of the best zombie movies ever made.

Grade: A-

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